KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The excitement of the Chinese New Year reunion dinner is still being felt despite strict adherence to the new normal nationwide.

This year, the government stipulated that only 15 immediate family members, living within a 10 kilometre radius, can congregate for the traditional eve reunion dinner tonight. Crossing district and state borders has been prohibited for family members.

The reunion dinner tradition is synonymous with the Chinese New Year celebration and usually relatives within the country will join the get-together with the aim of strengthening family ties.

A family in Penang, for example, who usually celebrates Chinese New Year’s eve with the whole family at a restaurant, will this year only gather at home with the immediate family members.

Yap Li Qiang, 52, who is celebrating the occasion with his wife and 25-year-old youngest daughter said this year’s Chinese New Year will be a modest affair and not as festive as before.

“I did not decorate the house as usual. Tomorrow, we will pray at home and I will really ask for us to quickly overcome this COVID-19 as we long to gather with the family again,” he told Bernama.

Penang police chief Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan when contacted said a police task force had conducted checks on houses and places of worship to ensure that no party violated the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and that the 15-person limit is observed.

Another family in Taman Mutiara Rini, Johor also continued their reunion tradition which has become symbolic of the festival, although the tradition was described this time as “incomplete” without families meeting and dining together.

Sunny Soo, 48, also expressed relief when the government allowed the family reunion to continue with strict SOPs, despite not being able to have a big meal with his sister who is in Singapore.

“Big feasts are still held but more moderately. This year the celebration is really quiet, no preparations, no decorations or buying of clothes…but that’s okay, I hope next year I can celebrate in the usual way,” said the father of three.

Soo said he and his family will not go anywhere tomorrow and will only be at home because they are worried about the spread of COVID-19.


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